Tag: Inspiration

EDITORIAL: Serena Williams Wins 7th Wimbledon Title, 22nd Grand Slam and Makes Us All Feel Like Champions

Serena Williams ended her yearlong pursuit of Steffi Graf’s mark for Open-era Grand Slam wins by defeating Angelique Kerber in straight sets in the Wimbledon final Saturday. (Credit: Andy Rain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief (@lakinhutcherson)

I don’t know about anyone else, but I really needed this today.  I specifically set my alarm this morning to wake me at 6AM (PST) to watch Serena Williams compete for her seventh – yes, take that in – seventh Wimbledon title, and to tie Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slams won in the Open Era.

I’ll admit, regardless of the week of continued brutality and violence by police against black citizens and the gut-wrenching retaliation in Dallas because of such violence, as a lifelong fan, I most likely would have been up and watching Serena anyway.  But because of its timing, this victory – this continued rising, this perseverance – was that much more coveted, and that much sweeter.

Although Williams did not mention or comment on what’s been happening in America as she accepted her trophy, don’t think she’s remained silent in the media about it.  On her Twitter (which we here at GBN happily follow), she spoke directly to the recent atrocities and let us know they were on her mind days before this most crucial, career-defining match:

This tweet leads me to speculate that Serena was that much more focused, that much more centered and that much more desirous of the outcome that occurred – because she knew in her heart she wasn’t just winning her 22nd Grand Slam and making history for herself, but for all of us.

So thank you, Serena – for playing your best tennis today and being so damned undeniable.  You have been and are a shining light and the G.O.A.T. and a champion for the ages.  You are loved and supported in all of your endeavors.  You are #blackexcellence.  (And P.S. having Beyoncé and Jay Z in your box was on point, too! #Freedom #Formation)

Now, to the tennis facts, courtesy of Naila-Jean Meyers via the New York Times: Continue reading “EDITORIAL: Serena Williams Wins 7th Wimbledon Title, 22nd Grand Slam and Makes Us All Feel Like Champions”

14 Year-Old Tayloni Mazyck, Paralyzed in Brooklyn Gang Shooting, Inspires at her Middle School Graduation

Tayloni Mazyck getting her diploma at her graduation from New Design Middle School .She was paralyzed in 2013 when hit by a bullet during a gang war shoot out in Brooklyn.
Tayloni Mazyck getting her diploma at her graduation from New Design Middle School .She was paralyzed in 2013 when hit by a bullet during a gang war shoot out in Brooklyn. (MICHAEL SCHWARTZ/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Memphis Teen Kevuntez King Sold Newspapers for 5 Years so His Single Mom Wouldn’t Have to Pay His College Tuition

Kevuntez King
Kevuntez King (FOX 13 SCREENSHOT)

article by Stephen A. Crockett Jr. via theroot.com

When 17-year-old Kevuntez King was just a preteen, he decided that not only was he going to college, but his mother, a single parent, wasn’t going to pay for it.  “She just taught me how to be independent like she had it, [and] she just wanted me to go get it myself,” Kevuntez told Fox 13.

So, at the age of 12, Kevuntez got a job selling papers at a downtown Memphis, Tennessee intersection, and for five years he worked that job, saving the money he made.  “When it came down to school, my mom didn’t have to come out of pocket to do anything or I didn’t have to take out any loans to go to school,” Kevuntez told Fox 13.

Making around $200 a week, Kevuntez reached his goal, earning enough money to pay all of his tuition at Tennessee State University, where he will study physical therapy.

Kevuntez says he knows that what he’s accomplished is just the tip of the iceberg, and he has advice for anyone who feels that life can be challenging: “Make sure you surround yourself with people that’s trying to go up in life and not trying to bring you down. Just stay positive and always believe in yourself and push for it.”

Read more at Fox 13.

WATCH: Harvard Graduate School of Education Graduate Donovan Livingston Delivers Powerful, Poetic Speech On Overcoming Injustice

Classmates Pay for Fellow Senior Michael Tertsea’s Mother to Fly From Nigeria to Attend His Graduation in Baltimore

Graduating high school senior Michael Teresa and his mother (
Graduating high school senior Michael Tertsea embracing his mother Felicia Ikpum (abc.com screenshot)

article by Breanna Edwards via theroot.com

When Michael Tertsea was 14, he was offered the opportunity to get an education and play basketball at the John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland.  To pursue his dreams, he left his village in Nigeria and his mother, the Washington Post reports.

Four years later, the towering 6-foot-10 teen, who has received a full scholarship to play Division 1 basketball at the University of Rhode Island, was set for graduation and holding on to hopes of making it to the NBA so that he would be able to bring his mother to the United States.

As it turns out, Tertsea’s classmates were one step ahead of him. They had decided that his mom, Felicia Ikpum, should be here for his big day and raised money to fly her all the way to the U.S. to see her son, whom she hasn’t seen in four years, graduate.

According to the Post, the amazing gesture was meant to be a surprise, but Ikpum let the secret slip in one of her weekly phone calls with her son. However, Tertsea was still in awe when he finally got to see her arrive at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on May 20 and give her a hug.

“I was so happy to see her,” Tertsea said. “I’ve changed a lot … she’s been amazed at the person I’ve become.”

The senior class had successfully pulled together some $1,600 for the trip, while a school coordinator worked with Ikpum to make sure she could get her visa on time. When it was finally confirmed, the school’s faculty put up another $500 to pay for the trip.

According to the Post, Ikpum had to travel some 12 hours to Lagos, Nigeria, to board her flight to London, from where she would then fly to Baltimore. It was Ikpum’s first time on an airplane.

Mother and son have been enjoying each other’s company since her arrival last week, the Post reports. Ikpum had pasta for the first time and is in awe of her son’s life in the U.S., from the paved highways to the computerized school her son attends. Tertsea plans to take her to Washington, D.C., to see the monuments and the White House before she returns to Nigeria next week. He also plans to take her to Ocean City, Md., to walk the boardwalk and see the beach, and even to Baltimore to see the National Aquarium.

Tertsea, according to the Post, is thankful for his friends for making his graduation so special. He said that the best part of his life in the U.S. is “seeing a lot of people who show love and care towards me.”

To read more and see video, go to: http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2016/05/classmates-pay-for-teens-mom-to-fly-from-nigeria-to-baltimore-to-attend-his-graduation/?utm_content=buffera63eb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

David Norman, a 67 Year-Old Ex-Convict, Graduates from Columbia University

David Norman, a 67-year-old ex-con, celebrates his graduation from Columbia.
David Norman (photo via nydailynews.com)

article by Rich Schapiro via nydailynews.com

After 67 years, two prison stints and so many arrests he’s lost count, David Norman, a former Harlem drug dealer, graduated from Columbia University as the oldest member of his class.

Norman shed his dark past for a cap and gown Wednesday after earning his long-awaited bachelor’s degree in philosophy.  “It’s always possible to pursue your dreams,” Norman told the Daily News.

Norman’s extraordinary journey from the gritty streets of Harlem to the gleaming lawns at Columbia was studded with obstacles.  His decades-old battle with substance abuse began early.  Norman was drinking by age 11 and using heroin before his 15th birthday.  His high school education lasted all of one day.  Norman turned into a street hustler, slinging dope to satisfy his drug cravings.  “I had a 35-year run with addiction,” he said.

Norman racked up a mile-long rap sheet filled with arrests for robbery and drug trafficking.  His first stint upstate came in 1967. Nearly three decades later, he was charged with manslaughter after fatally stabbing a man in a street fight.  The six years he spent in Mohawk Correctional Facility in upstate Rome proved life-changing.

He found joy in books. He started learning Hebrew. And he helped run a program that taught life skills to inmates preparing to return to society.  “I had a moment of clarity in which I was able to recognize everything I had done at that point was fairly counter-productive and I needed to engage in some new activities and some new behaviors,” Norman said.

He walked out of prison in 2000 a changed man, eager to devote the second half of his life to raising up the most vulnerable.

Continue reading “David Norman, a 67 Year-Old Ex-Convict, Graduates from Columbia University”

Homeless Kansas Man Joshua Woods Beats the Odds and Graduates College

photo
Joshua Woods (photos via fox5atlanta.com)

A Kansas man overcame the odds to graduate college.

Joshua Woods said he never believed he would attain his dreams, but that all changed when he graduated from Wichita State in December. That’s because Woods was homeless and lived on his sister’s floor.

Woods’ parents had both died and he was ready to give up. Instead, he used his last $30 to apply to Wichita State and was accepted.  “I was disappointed. Mostly in myself but also at life. I felt like I wasn’t dealt a good hand to begin with. I was in foster care. My father passed away when I was 16. I was the only kid on my block with no guardian.”

He worked his way through college, which included working overnight at a grocery store. In the mornings, he would run five miles to school because he had no vehicle.  “It was hard to hold my tears as I walked across that stage,” Woods said. “To be considered stupid all your life and you graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree… I don’t know about anyone else, but it was a triumph for me.”

Woods graduated with a communications degree and hopes to pursue a career in journalism.

article via fox5atlanta.com

This is How Two Amazing Parents Helped Their 4 Year-Old Trans Daughter Feel Loved

This is how two amazing parents helped their 4-year-old trans daughter feel loved
Trans girl Ellie, 4, and her dad, Ron (photo: Jill Promoli)

Vanessa, a teacher in Washington DC, and her husband Ron are experts now in how trans kids should be treated.  But they had to learn fast, when they realized their four-year-old daughter, Ellie, is transgender.

They are a family rooted in strong values. Vanessa’s parents lived the ultimate love story – meeting young, falling in love and spending their whole lives together.  Ron’s parents were also in love, but the family had to deal with tragedy. When Ron was 10, his dad died of brain cancer.

‘The emotional scars were still deep, knowing my dad was no longer living. So, when I met Vanessa and thought about raising a family, I really wanted to ensure she and our kids were what I focused on – my role as a husband and dad. They came first,’ he told me.

Their son, Ronnie, was born first. Ellie was due 18 months later.

‘We had an amniocentesis and found out the “sex,” but at the time we really didn’t think about sex and gender being different. We pretty immediately formed a family identity as “Vanessa and Ron with two small boys.”’

The amnio did not tell the truth about Ellie, however. The packaging was misleading. As soon as she was able to speak, Ellie set about clarifying who she was to her parents.  ‘I’m not a boy. I am a girl. I’m a girl in my heart and my brain. My penis is my only boy part. The whole rest of me is girl,’ she would explain to them out of the blue, without prompting.

Vanessa was disturbed when she witnessed Ellie trying to fight her own inner truth. Ellie would lie in bed at night, unable to sleep, poking her chest and attempting to convince herself of something she was told but did not believe: ‘Boy, boy, boy! I have to be a boy! I have to like Power Rangers!’

Witnessing this struggle, Vanessa and Ron knew it was time for them to transition. Their daughter had spoken, and they had to listen.

Ellie had already rejected the name she had been given at birth. She had been okay with it until she realized people would see her as a boy if she used it. So she informed her parents that she was ‘Ellie.’

The results of Vanessa and Ron’s full acceptance of Ellie was dramatic.  ‘She blossomed, became happier and just seemed more herself,’ Vanessa says.  ‘We have a happy, silly, strong-willed, outgoing daughter. Before her transition, she was mostly quiet, shy, sometimes angry and certainly not outgoing.

‘At the forefront of parenting is ensuring the happiness and safety of your children. It was clear that by not listening to her, we’d be putting her at risk, and that is not something we were willing to do.’

Ron and Vanessa then did the incredible; not only did they not hide what was going on in their family, they built a new community consciousness around their child.

Continue reading “This is How Two Amazing Parents Helped Their 4 Year-Old Trans Daughter Feel Loved”

Siblings Lauren Conner, 11, Ashleigh Conner, 10, & Christian Conner, 9, Play Classical Music in Subway to Raise Money for Homeless

Meet the Seriously Talented Young Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless| Music, Good Deeds, Music News, Real People Stories
(From left) Lauren, 11, Ashleigh, 10 and Christian Conner, 9  (Photo via people.com)

Lauren, Ashleigh and Christian Conner have been studying music since they were toddlers. Violinists and a cellist, the trio of siblings has long had a heart for music.  But when they moved to New York from New Jersey last year and saw the number of homeless people in the city’s streets, they realized they had a heart for much more.

“I saw [the homeless people] on the street and I felt sad for them,” Christian, 9, tells PEOPLE.

The three moved from Sussex County in October with their parents, Zenobia and Keith Conner. Zenobia says that from the moment the family got to the city, Christian wanted to help.

She tells PEOPLE that the young cellist would repeatedly ask her for money to give to the less fortunate and, after awhile, she said, “If you want to give some money to the homeless, then go out there and play your cello.”

And play he did. Christian and his sisters, 10-year-old Ashleigh and 11-year-old Lauren (both violinists), decided to take to the Fulton Street subway station to play music with hopes of raising enough money to give to the less fortunate.  To see video of these amazing siblings busking, click here.

Meet the Seriously Talented Young Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless| Music, Good Deeds, Music News, Real People Stories
Talented Young Conner Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless (photo via people.com)

Last week, the three siblings set up their music stands in a corner of the bustling station. Ashleigh tells PEOPLE that on their first day, they played for two hours and raised a little more than $240. The three play works by composers like Beethoven, Bach and Karl Jenkins as onlookers in the station watch in amazement.

Continue reading “Siblings Lauren Conner, 11, Ashleigh Conner, 10, & Christian Conner, 9, Play Classical Music in Subway to Raise Money for Homeless”

Doreetha Daniels, 99, Graduates from College of the Canyons

99 Year-Old graduate Doreetha Daniels (photo via Facebook)
99 Year-Old graduate Doreetha Daniels (photo via Facebook)

Talk about a “senior moment.”  99-year-old Doreetha Daniels is no stranger to chasing her dreams. Dulce recently graduated from the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA. According to ktla.com, the 99 year-old was inspired by her grandchildren.

Her son said she persevered through her education despite suffering a couple of strokes and losing her driver’s license.

College officials said Daniels struggled sometimes — especially with computer literacy — at a campus where most students are 18 to 24 years old.

But she just worked harder, according to the college. Twice a week before class, she studied, did her homework and worked with tutors at the college’s tutoring center.

She was touted as “one of the most dedicated and hardworking students” in the statistics class, the college said in a news release.

Doreetha stated, “99, here I am. I accomplished what I wanted to do, and this is my dream come true.”

When she was asked what advice she would to younger generations, Daniels said: “Don’t give up. Do it. Don’t let anybody discourage you. Say that, ‘I’m going to do it,’ and do it for yourself.”

article by Courtney Whitaker via madamenoire.com